‘Tetanus still a major problem in Nigeria’

‘Tetanus still a major problem in Nigeria’Two years after Nigeria signed to the world resolution to eliminate tetanus, the disease still remains a burden in the country, just as a pre-assessment survey indicated that many communities in states like Oyo still stand a high risk of contracting this deadly disease.

Acting Executive Secretary, Oyo State Primary Health Care Board, Dr Lanre Abass, said this at the opening of a day sensitisation meeting on the 2017 round maternal neonatal tetanus elimination campaign in Ibadan.

Dr Abass, speaking through the state’s health educator, Mrs Bilikisu Olawoyin, stated that based on the national maternal and neonatal tetanus pre-assessment survey,  Itesiwaju Local Government in Oyo State still had a high risk of neonatal tetanus.

The expert, who stated that pre-assessment survey was done in preparedness for the nation’s eradication of the disease, said many pregnant women missed tetanus vaccination because they abstained from antenatal care services or delivered their babies at home or religious homes.

He, however, assured that the 2017 round maternal neonatal tetanus elimination campaign that just started this week in the state would afford three rounds of supplemental tetanus immunisation for seven local governments with a high risk for the disease in the state.

The seven high-risk local governments in Oyo state, he said are Itesiwaju, Oyo West, Ibarapa North, Atisbo, Iwajowa, Saki West and Saki East.

According to him, “In these LGAs, we have also selected high risk settlements. Our target is to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of women within the reproductive age group in those settlements because it is only then that we can make Oyo State free of neonatal tetanus.”

While other women in reproductive age groups can benefit from the free tetanus vaccination under the state’s routine immunisation programme, he stated that ideally, every woman should take five rounds of tetanus vaccination to be protected for life.

“Most women end up taking the vaccination during pregnancy and once they deliver their baby, do not go back to complete it. That is why we are still recording very low tetanus vaccination coverage in Oyo State,” he said.

Mr Muideen Olalekan, the technical officer, Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Agency, South West zonal office, stated that overall, the country was very slow on all its tetanus elimination strategies.

He added, “the recent statistics indicates a significant drop in the number of reported cases of neonatal tetanus from 468 in 2013 to 104 in 2014 and 53 cases in 2015.

“In the light of the findings of the reported data and field assessment, the team concluded that five of the six states of the South West zone of Nigeria have findings compatible with maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status, but that the hard-to-reach populations like Fulani settlements of Oyo State remain at risk for maternal and neonatal tetanus.”

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